Unless it’s a game like Hades, ports rarely get the attention they deserve, but we always enjoy it when games branch out to new platforms and audiences. We’re looking at three recent examples today with Sheepo, Godstrike and Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife.
Sheepo review (PS4)
There’s certainly no shortage of metroidvania-style platformers on Steam, but every now and then there’s a title that makes console owners jealous that they can’t play it. Sheepo from developer Kyle Thompson is one such title, but it recently made the leap that allowed us to play it on a PlayStation 4.
Sheepo is about a sheep-like protagonist (we would have been happy with a regular sheep too) where you go about saving creatures on your planet by collecting one of their eggs for safeguarding. Gameplay mostly consists of platforming and the occasional boss battle, which is where the metroidvania element comes in as well.
Collecting an egg (after beating a boss) means you are granted the ability to morph into to associated creature, which lets you explore new areas of the game (which helps you to collect more feathers if you’re a completionist) but also gives you new ways to get past the bosses – which don’t require traditional combat but force you to evade attacks until you can trick the boss into taking themselves down.
Using these other creatures also keeps the platforming from ever feeling stale, adding fresh mechanics as you progress. You do need a bit of tolerance for backtracking though, but that’s the nature of most metroidvanias out there and Sheepo does feature a number of portals that let you teleport between sections and save time. Combine all that with a lovely and soothing visual style, and this is an indie platformer we were happy to see make the jump to consoles.
Godstrike review (PS4)
Godstrike from developer OverPowered Team and publisher Freedom Games originally launched on Steam and the Nintendo Switch, but it always seemed like it would be a great candidate for the “bigger” consoles as well. That’s been addressed now, and we went hands on with the PlayStation version of the game.
Best described a twin-stick boss rush shooter, Godstrike features easy to grasp yet hard to master mechanics that result in that “one more try” dynamic of classic arcade games. It’s all boss fights here, so there’s no need to learn about level layouts and platforming tricks, but there’s plenty of nuance in the fights themselves.
The biggest one has to do with your health bar, which is tied to a timer that tells you how much time you have to beat a particular boss. Get hit, and your health/time bar drops down a bit quicker – until it reaches zero, where the next hit is fatal. It’s a simple concept, but executed very well with hard but fair boss fights and plenty of ways to mix up the gameplay beyond the basic twin stick principle of moving and dodging with the left stick and firing with the right one.
Godstrike is all about learning patterns, and because bosses have multiple phases and every attempt will teach you more about how to beat them despite plenty of failure as you get caught off guard by their changing attack waves and thus lose precious time. Once you learn about what to expect, you can also arm yourself appropriately before going into battle. This isn’t so much about equipping weapons as it is about picking the right powers and passive abilities that can make all the difference. Some of them come with a time penalty though, and make you start with a shorter life/time bar, creating an interesting trade-off mechanic.
In the default mode, you’ll gradually unlock these perks by beating bosses, which makes future replays all the more interesting as you can go in with different tactics that might let you push on further or at least get past earlier battles more comfortably and/or consistently. If you keep struggling, then the game will drop back to an easier difficulty as well, which keeps things from getting too frustrating even though your wins will feel less rewarding.
The core campaign is the bulk of the game, but there’s replay value in the arcade (permadeath) and challenge modes that are also included. With tough and fast-flowing combat, Godstrike is a blast to play and something that’s fun to just pick up for a one or two hour run as well.
Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife hits PlayStation VR
When we reviewed Wraith: The Oblivion – Afterlife, it was an exclusive for PC-based headsets and the Oculus Quest. We thought it was one of the better VR horror games out there, and a good showcase for the expertise of the VR specialists at Fast Travel Games. Now, just in time for Halloween, it’s also coming to PlayStation VR, and we went hands on with it to see how well the conversion was done.
Content-wise and in terms of gameplay, it’s the same experience we got on other systems already, but the good news is that the haunting and atmospheric visuals translate very well to the PlayStation VR headset. Resident Evil VII is still the benchmark for horror on the platform, but Wraith comes very close and genre fans should definitely give it a look this season.
It’s not all great though, as the Move controllers are a definite step backwards when compared to the Touch controllers we used on the Oculus versions. While stealth and confrontations with enemies generally work very well, and can carry this game, traversal fares a little worse – backing up and turning just isn’t as comfortable in the PlayStation version. It’s no fault of the developers though – they’ve crafted a fine horror experience for PSVR despite the shortcomings of the controllers they had to work with. If you don’t have access to the Oculus versions, we highly recommend this one if you’re looking for a good Halloween experience in VR this year.